How Work Related Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Mental Health
Hearing loss can have a massive impact on your mental wellbeing and can lead to you feeling isolated and embarrassed.
This is very common and many of the people I help, with claims for work-related hearing loss, tell me they find social situations particularly hard as there’s usually lots of background noise going on.
Often, they’re unable to follow conversations and have had to develop various coping methods, such as making appropriate gestures even if they’ve not been able to hear what’s been said and lost the context of the discussion.
I’ve been involved in many noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus claims over the years, so have seen first-hand how hearing loss can affect a person’s mental health.
But I’m also proud to have helped them access whatever support they need, such as hearing aids, tinnitus retraining counselling and compensation for financial losses.
If you’ve developed occupational hearing loss because you’ve been exposed to loud noises at work get in touch with our specialist Industrial Disease Solicitors for a free claims assessment. We’ll be happy to speak with you about your situation and discuss how we can help you.
Hearing Loss Affects Loved Ones Too
A key point to raise is that it’s not just the person who has developed hearing loss who is affected by it; it can have a profound impact on their friends and relatives too.
This was highlighted in a recent poll by health and lifestyle website Clear Living, which asked people with hearing loss and their loved ones how hearing loss had affected their lives.
- 89% of people said hearing loss had led to social and personal problems
- 58% feel their relationships have suffered
- 39% find it harder to follow or take part in conversations
- 35% find it hard to be out with friends in public places
- 30% struggle to watch TV
But despite this, three-quarters of those polled said they had concerns about buying a hearing aid.
I’d urge anyone who’s developed hearing loss because of loud noises at work to get in touch with us, as the cost of specialist equipment such as hearing aids can be included as part of your hearing loss claim for compensation.
But embarrassment and a perceived social stigma around hearing aids may also be having an effect.
Hearing Aids Open Up the World to People with Hearing Loss
Many clients have told me they are too embarrassed or too young to wear hearing aids, but technology is changing all the time, and hearing aids are now much smaller and less noticeable when worn.
There are different types of hearing aid offering different advantages, depending on size, levels of amplification and design. They are all battery operated and the main types are “in the ear” (which sit in the outer ear), “behind the ear” and “in the canal” (which sit in the ear canal).
Having spoken to clients who have been provided with hearing aids, they report that it’s been like opening up the world to them.
Damage to hearing caused by noise affects a person’s ability to hear higher frequencies of noise such as bird song. Once age-associated hearing loss starts to occur, coupled with noise damage, hearing ability can be badly affected, so a hearing aid can have a hugely positive effect on your life.
Treatments for Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a condition where noises are heard in the ear, despite the absence of an external source of sound, and can have a massive impact on your wellbeing.
It’s often described as ringing, whooshing, buzzing or a high-pitched noise, and can often be caused by exposure to loud noises at work. Dependent on how severe your symptoms are it can be very intrusive and cause sleep disturbance.
But treatments are available, with tinnitus therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helping sufferers develop techniques to manage and cope with the condition.
A lesser known problem which can be linked to noise damage is hyperacusis which relates to sensitivity to sounds.
I haven’t seen this condition often during my career and have dealt with one successful case for noise-induced hearing loss, mild tinnitus and hyperacusis. In that case, my client reported difficulties with children’s voices, which was very upsetting as he had young children. But as with tinnitus, retraining and acoustic therapies that aim to reduce reactions to hyperacusis and help a patient cope better are out there.
It’s important to remember that there is help available and if you think you may be suffering from a condition related to loud noise at work your GP can refer you for investigations and therapy. When you’ve been diagnosed with a specific condition you may then be in a position to claim compensation, so you’re in a position to access any specific equipment and therapies you may need to live with your hearing loss.
It’s rather a play on words, but to put it simply, you don’t have to suffer in silence.
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